The Reasons America needs to Reopen ASAP
Updated: May 27, 2020
I think reopening America is a great policy. I also think it should continue to be done in a logical, safe way that encourages social distancing and preventative measures to slow the spread of the virus, but allows the businesses to open back up, and American workers to return to their jobs. There are several reasons why I think this policy is better than staying locked down in our homes for the foreseeable future. The first reason is simple. At the very core of America lies individual liberties and rights. These rights are the basis of American government and precede our lifetime, and even the lifetime of our grandparents who we are trying so hard to protect. Americans’ individual liberties have been vastly minimized in the past few months. This was originally done in the name of preventing the overflow of the healthcare system, which it accomplished greatly. Although, even at that time the lock down policies were sparsely justified. Now, some say that reopening, even if done smartly, will cause the rate of new cases to increase. This is true, but it doesn’t mean it is logical. If a new law was passed tomorrow that prohibited drivers from traveling faster than 30 miles per hour, the percentage of crashes that ended in fatalities would likely decrease. However, no one does this. That's because creating public policy requires a delicate balancing act of several priorities which include but aren’t limited to: people’s rights, the economy/jobs, quality of life of the general population, future potential for loss of life, and finally, current potential for loss of life. Right now, many politicians in America only focus on the last thing on that list, turning a blind eye to everything else. I’m glad that Texas isn’t that way. The Texas state government understands that allowing citizens to balance risk and reward and evaluate situations on their own will always be better than telling the citizens what's best for them, and if they don’t comply, using force or coercion to make them comply.
The next reason is becoming more glaring as each day passes. This is obviously the crumbling of the greatest economy on Earth, and with it the loss of a record number of jobs. As of May 14, more than thirty six million Americans were unemployed. A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study estimated that more than 100,000 small businesses have closed down permanently. The stock market, which so far has actually fared better than how many experts predicted, has still taken a massive hit. After being at an all-time high on February 12, the Dow Jones has tumbled more than 5,000 points. Despite a recent resurgence, the S&P 500 is down more than 12% from it's all-time high on February 19. This is absolute carnage. The likes of which this country hasn’t seen since 1929. The difference this time is that the economic depression has been brought on by the government, not by bad luck or fundamental flaws in our economic structure. The government forcefully shut down massive swathes of the American economy. The result: small businesses are dropping like flies, low-wage workers are being laid off at rapid rates, and the stock market is undergoing a drastic market correction. Additionally, tremendous amounts of money is having to be floated to Americans just to keep the economy from crumbling and tables from being food-less, causing the national debt to skyrocket in a time when few countries are looking to purchase debt. All of these factors are road signs on a Mad Max highway to doom. If America doesn’t reopen quickly, then the virus will be the least of our problems.
My third and final reason for reopening is more speculative than the previous two, but it still raises serious concerns. Most American epidemiologists agree that there will be some sort of “second wave” of COVID-19 in the fall. NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has already said that a second wave is “inevitable”. I could continue with a list of quotes from prominent doctors that all agree a second round of infection is very likely to happen, but it would be redundant. This begs the question: when we inevitably come out of lock down, won’t large numbers of people get the virus anyway? Perhaps all the lock down did was just delay sickness or even death for many people who will get the virus anyway later. In this case, we could have destroyed our economy and sacrificed our rights, just to see nearly the same amount of people die from COVID. There’s also the unintended consequences of the lock down to be considered. There will be increased alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide, domestic violence, and divorce. Professor of Economics at Harvard Nicholas Mankiw studied the effects that rising unemployment will have on the US, and his findings were quite startling. He concluded that for every one percent increase, there will be 650 more homicides, 920 more suicides, 3,300 more people sent to state prisons, and 4,000 more people admitted to state mental institutions. Even if this model is pessimistic, it would still mean terrible news for America. As of May 8, the US unemployment rate was 14.7 percent, and it's rising everyday. Considering the rate was just 3.5 percent in February that is alarming. Just by doing simple calculations, one can see how there will be a drastic wave of unforeseen consequences of our lock down. For all these reasons I have laid out, I believe that reopening in an intelligent and practical manner is not just the best thing America can do, but it is what we must do if we wish to preserve the people and the prosperity of this great nation.